“I finally get it, dad!”

Even as a kid and teen, I found it tremendously difficult to wake up on time. I slept through alarm clocks and it would require, what seemed an army, to get me out of bed. My dad used to get a big metal ladle and bang it on my door every morning to make sure I’d get to campus on time. His goal was to be as annoying as possible that I would finally open my door and get ready — coz unless I did, he wouldn’t stop his crazy ways. In a way, I’m thankful I wasn’t a morning person back then because it’s given me this fun yet annoying memory of our dad! But then again….we would have other fond memories in the morning if I had made an effort to see the benefits of waking up bright and early like he did.

Dad was up by 4 or 5 in the morning. He’d prepare his huge (not an exaggeration) cup of black coffee and breakfast which was mainly toast and Vegemite or peanut butter. Then he’d watch the news on different channels — BBC, CNN, and Deutsche World. When he’s gotten his morning dose of what was happening around the world, he’d put on his workout clothes — worn out slacks usually in gray or brown, a worn-out polo shirt, and his trusty rubber shoes. With shades that doubled as his thick glasses and his wristwatch with a timer, he’d head on out for his morning walk. We didn’t live in a posh subdivision, so he really walked through the busy side streets of Makati and Manila with kids and adults alike yelling out “Hey Joe!”

After his daily walk from Makati to Luneta Park and back, he’d come home sweaty and stinky. Then he’d proceed to get ready for the day and sit at his computer to work on the aviation modules he was writing for an Australian university. He had set a specific time for everything. He had time to work, time to eat slowly and leisurely, time to sit in his rocking chair and read, time to talk to us even if most of the time we weren’t really interested (which I still regret to this day!), time to watch Filipino telenovelas with my mom even if he rarely understood what they were saying — he just wanted to be with mom as she enjoyed doing something. He definitely had time to sit down at the end of the day and drink x bottles of beer as slowly as he could and a time to sleep early so he could do everything all over again the next day.

I used to think dad’s life was too systematic, too programmed, too predictable. I never followed his ways until now. I don’t know if his way of life was the result of his training in their boarding school as a kid in England. I never really bothered to ask. I wish I did. Now I’m curious to know what led him to live that kind of life. Was it just what he was used to? Was he always just ever so wise? OR was he a mess like me too — then one day he just decided to get his act together?

One day if my kids ever decide to share stories about me, I’m pretty sure they’re gonna say that mom was a mess. A big one. She had no rhythm for the longest time. Until one day, she decided to get her act together because she was tired of being sick and dissatisfied with how her days were spent.

To which I’ll add — I also did it because I wanted to be like my dad (which would probably get me to continue getting up really early in the morning at the sound of my first alarm). I get it now. Finally.

I’ve been up since 6:30 in the morning. Hopefully, in the coming days, I’ll be up by 6 or earlier. It’s barely 9 am as I write this and I’ve been able to eat a healthy brekkie, I had unrushed Bible reading, devo, prayer and journal time with God, I was able to read from a book that I just started about world changers, I was able to jot down ideas for passion projects, and tadaa…. I’m finally writing again! Right after I publish this I’ll wake up my kids and prepare their brekkie and devote the rest of the day (until 5pm) to working and homeschooling in between.

I look forward to when I can close my laptop at 5pm because I made use of my working hours wisely and I can cuddle and dive into a book with my daughter `til 6. I am excited to prepare a healthy and hearty meal for my family and eat earlier than we usually do (we used to eat at 9pm! Last night we were done eating by 7:30!). Side note: Dinner time is one of the highlights of my day because it’s when my kids usually share what they’ve learned throughout the day – thankfully, without much prompting now! There is also peace in knowing that at the end of the day, I can get lost in the other book I’m reading (about healthy living) and I can also enjoy a few fun videos with my daughter before we finally call it a day. Then…I can do all of this again tomorrow….just like dad did.

I write this knowing that there could be moms out there reading this with babies or toddlers, desperately wanting time for themselves again. Please know, momma, that one day it’ll happen again. I was in your shoes not so long ago. My youngest child is 8 now and I have asked her to give me this time to myself. I used to think it was selfish. She used to not like the idea as well. BUT…when she saw how happy, calm, and productive I was throughout the day — she got it too. So I think our family is getting better at this. She’s realizing earlier than I did the value of how dad lived his life — there was a time for everything.

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